Montague preparing Digital Equity Plan, seeks public feedback

Montague Town Hall.

Montague Town Hall. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Report

Published: 12-05-2023 11:15 AM

MONTAGUE — Informed by data and public feedback, the town is preparing its first-ever Digital Equity Plan in an effort to ensure all its residents have equal access to digital technologies — including the internet, computers and cellphones — as well as the skills and knowledge to use them effectively.

As part of this process, an initial public meeting will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6, to solicit community input to help guide the town in its investments and decision-making around services and infrastructure to increase internet access and usage. The meeting will be held both in person at Town Hall and on Zoom from 6 to 8 p.m.

Having a Digital Equity Plan will also help prepare the town to submit grant requests to state or federal programs. This project is funded by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program.

“The ultimate goal is to lay the groundwork for long-term investments to achieve digital equity for all in Montague,” Town Planner Maureen Pollock said in a statement. “The final plan will be incorporated into the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated.”

To create the Digital Equity Plan, the town is working with staff from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) and the Montague Comprehensive Plan Steering Group. The steering group will assist with community engagement and development of a community assessment and action plan. The steering group will meet periodically during the six-month planning process to prepare the Digital Equity Plan.

The town plans to solicit public feedback through multiple ways, including a digital equity survey, community-wide meetings, and focus groups with priority populations within town that are found to be most at risk and/or experiencing digital inequities, such as older adults, low-income populations and households where English is not the primary language.

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The Wednesday, Dec. 6 meeting will consist of a short presentation followed by breakout sessions led by FRCOG staff. Light refreshments will be provided.

Attendees are asked to RSVP at bit.ly/MontaguedigitalequityRSVP or by calling FRCOG Senior Economic Development Planner Ted Harvey at 413-774-3167, ext. 165. Attendees should also indicate if they plan to attend in person at Town Hall or via Zoom so organizers can bring the right amount of refreshments.

For more information about Montague’s Digital Equity Plan, visit montague-ma.gov/p/1532. With questions or comments, contact Montague Town Planner Maureen Pollock at maureenp@montague-ma.gov or Harvey at tharvey@frcog.org.